Changes to the Youth Justice Act 1992

The Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019 (the Act) was passed by the Queensland Parliament on 22 August 2019.

The new laws form part of the Queensland Government’s $550 million investment in youth justice reforms, including new programs and services to keep young people out of custody and from re-offending.

The legislation removes barriers that may contribute to children being refused bail, or breaching bail conditions, or remaining in detention on remand for an extended period including in watch houses. Initiatives such as bail support services, Community Youth Response, diversion services and intensive case management will play an important role in delivering the supervision, intensive support and access to housing for young people who are granted bail as a result of the new laws.

Importantly, the new legislation ensures that judges and police can continue to use their discretion to ensure community safety when making decisions about bail.

The Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019 was tabled in June and then referred to the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee for consideration. After a detailed examination, which included submissions from stakeholders, the Committee recommended that it be passed.

When did the changes take effect?

The Act includes changes to the Youth Justice Act 1992, the Bail Act 1980, the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 and the Public Guardian Act 2014. Some of those changes commenced upon assent of the Bill on 5 September 2019, including:

  • changes to the Charter of Youth Justice Principles
  • recordings and use of body-worn cameras in detention centres
  • insertion of a new sentencing principle into the Youth Justice Act 1992 regarding child homicide
  • amendments to the Public Guardian Act 2014.

The remaining amendments commenced by proclamation on 16 December, including:

  • introduction of a child-focussed bail decision-making framework
  • establishment of a contemporary information sharing framework under amendments to the Youth Justice Act
  • amendments to the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000.

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